YEAR AHEAD: 2021–22
The Council’s priorities for 2021–22 will remain broadly the same in continuing to advise and lend support to the ABS (see the 2021–22 ASAC Statement of Intent). The evolution and significant impacts of COVID-19 will continue to place a premium on the need for agility and being adaptive to change.
ABS WORK PROGRAM AND RESOURCING
Notwithstanding the welcome positive outcome from the October 2020 Federal Budget, which provides necessary additional core funding from 2021–22, the ABS will continue to face resourcing challenges in fulfilling its role as Australia’s national statistics agency. Among other things, the Council expects that there will be ongoing demand for COVID-19 related data. This will continue to impact on the ABS work program while presenting opportunities for further innovation and collaboration. The Council will provide guidance on enterprise priorities and shifts as detailed in the ABS Enterprise Strategy.
ABS ROLE WITHIN AN EVOLVING DATA LANDSCAPE
The data landscape is rapidly evolving, and the role of the ABS will need to evolve along with it. This change is occurring across all sectors of society – business, government and the broader community. Within the Australian Government, the Australian Data Strategy is being developed to set out how the Government will enhance effective, safe and secure data and the Office of the National Data Commissioner is promoting greater use of public sector data. The Council will continue to assist the ABS with clarifying its roles and responsibilities within this evolving landscape.
BUILDING AND MAINTAINING COMMUNITY TRUST
Maintaining high levels of trust remains an imperative for the ABS and will continue to be a key area of focus for the Council. Ongoing issues include the balancing of confidentiality with providing necessary access to data, as well as adapting collection methods while maintaining quality levels. Broad community support is vital to ABS operations and trust in ABS statistics is critical to their use in decision-making within government and more widely.
The need for a more systematic approach to capability building has seen the innovation of the Data Professional Stream. As this initiative matures, the Council will help raise awareness of the program and provide advice regarding synergies with the activities of other jurisdictions and sectors.
2021 CENSUS OF POPULATION AND HOUSING
The Council will monitor developments as the Census proceeds in August 2021 and discuss lessons from changes made to inform planning for the 2026 Census and potential innovations over the longer term. Key areas of change for the 2021 Census include:
- the introduction of the Census 'response window', enabling people to complete the Census ahead of Census night
- incident and crisis management
- communication and engagement activities.